Settling in despite a few shocks

Credit: Sheena Adams

The produce may not be cheap, but at least it’s available in the Great White North

My employment has come with accommodation – most jobs up here do as housing is expensive and limited. After a few days, I realize that I can walk outside once it is above -12°C, so that is when I head to work and wake up the greenhouse . . . and at night I put it to bed at about 11.

I have an office at Aurora College, which the greenhouse is in partnership with, so I have internet access. The community has an amazing swimming pool complete with a hot tub, sauna, steamroom, river-run tube ride and waterslide.

After my first week of greenhouse work the pool was a nice place to relax. It feels great to be in the greenhouse but now I remember how physical it is. I have been doing yoga to stay in shape, but perhaps I am not as strong as I used to be or gravity is greater here – those bales of pro-mix are heavy!

Grocery shopping was a shock at first – but now I am used to it – yes, bananas really are $6 a kilo, but at least we can get them . . . a clamshell of salad is $9 and a bag of oranges is also $9. Still, despite the prices, people are stocking up, as when the road closes, these will become limited in supply. I am just happy I can get what I like – there is lots of organic food so healthy eating is possible.

Dining-out places are very limited, so people mainly eat at home. Nevertheless, I have discovered a great little bakery that serves homemade soups and bread and wonderful coffee – a very good find!

I have been on the phone ordering plants from all over – cuttings are being flown in from New Brunswick, Red Deer and Black Creek. Supplies are coming from Calgary, seeds from the East Coast and gloves from Edmonton. I have learnt quickly how to ship liners and cuttings efficiently. Currently, about 30,000 baby plants have been flown in safely – which is amazing when you think of the journey.

Still, I imagine that each time I receive an order I will hold my breath while opening it and hope that the fragile plants are not frozen – very similar to the feeling I get every morning when I open the greenhouse!